Through our capstone program, HPA is breaking down the walls between school and the real world. We empower students to follow their interests and passions—and to make a positive impact on their communities in the process.”

—Aaron Schorn, K-12 capstone coordinator

Upper School capstone courses give you freedom to define a passion project; gain feedback from peers, teachers, and experts; and ultimately bring your work into the community to gauge its effectiveness and impact. The full capstone experience at HPA begins in Lower School, but is accessible to all students regardless of their entrance year. Where will your curiosity take you?

Capstone offerings for 2020-21

Data-Driven Entrepreneurship
Success in the modern world requires both hard and soft skills. Data drives all our lives, even if most of us don’t know how. Yet data analysis, by itself, is insufficient. It needs to occur within the context of customer development and analytical decision making. This capstone aims to help you develop a wide range of entrepreneurial skills and competencies that will be crucial for your future success in a wide range of fields. Your future starts now.

Global Politics and Policy Implementation
The objective of this capstone is for students to recognize and magnify their influence on the global stage through direct and legitimate means.  To accomplish this goal, students will examine and select a social conflict impacting our global community and then create a public policy outcome to assist in its rectification.  This course’s outcomes will assist students interested in shaping various global affairs, ranging from politics to business and many avenues in between.

Independent Capstone
Students in Independent Capstone submit formal proposals for approval that do not fit into other capstone courses. Often, these projects are a continuation of ideas that have started to be brought to fruition. Students are mentored and guided through the same process as other capstone students.

Marine Science and Advocacy
The goal of this capstone course is for us to collectively learn about our ocean (develop the “knowing”), to explore it with curiosity and wonder, to gain a caring appreciation for its complexities and diversity, and to use this to advocate for its health. Our curiosity will determine our focus areas as we learn about our reef system with fieldwork being an integral part of our studies. The chosen independent project is meant to increase our knowledge of our nearshore marine realm and applying this knowledge to advocate for its health and wellbeing.

Migrations of Moananuiākea: Traditional Navigation & Modern-day Voyaging in Oceania
This course will introduce students to the ancient migrations of Moananuiākea (Oceania), traditional navigation and modern day voyaging and canoe sailing in Hawaiʻi. Students will study an array of orature and literature; island geography; history of voyaging; canoe design, building, and rigging techniques; weather, astronomy and its application to navigation and sail planning. The concluding capstone project for the course will be guided by the themes of the class. 

Sustainability through Action
Our school’s vision for sustainability, Mālama Kaiāulu, implores us to care for our community of spirit, land, and people. In this Capstone, students will embark on this work by learning about the history of this island and the systems the Hawaiians used to manage its resources. They will then look outward to other communities, businesses and nations who are working to shift the paradigm of how humans view the world. Students will finally take action to implement sustainable practices, tools, designs, and business strategies to improve the social, environmental and economic systems at the school and our community. 

Activism through Music
Music has the power to lift up & amplify marginalized voices, to eliminate norms that protect the mainstream, and to help bridge/close the gaps (cultural, generational, theory & practice) that exist in society.  For centuries, composers and songwriters have used songs and lyrics to Affirm Cultural Interests & Identities, Resist Hegemonic Culture, and to Speak Truth to Power. From Hip Hop cyphers in NYC to the musicians of South Africa that “presented an alternative vision of culture in a future democratic South Africa through their songs”, students in this capstone will research and study various movements and individual works that demonstrate activism and social/cultural change through music.  Ultimately, students will create and present their own music-based project that, like Lin Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton”, uses music towards equity, justice and inclusivity.

Agriculture and Design
There is great power in the simple but revolutionary act of putting your hands in the soil, and a careful observation of an ecosystem offers key insight into many of our worldʻs most pressing issues. If you seek social justice, want to be part of the climate change solution, or wish to fix our broken food system, this course may be for you. All of this and more is possible through the deepening of our relationship with the land. In Agriculture and Design, we will examine our food system through the lens of our unique environment and the agricultural system that fully sustained a thriving Native Hawaiian population. In addition, we will analyze our current industrial food production methods and experiment with alternative systems of regenerative agriculture that renew and restore the land.  Through a deepening of our understanding of food, farming and our relationship with the land, we will design and implement projects, products, and outcomes that serve our community and the environment. 

Applications of Ecology and Evolution
This course asks students to identify possible solutions or contributions to questions in ecology, evolution, and population genetics. Students will apply field and laboratory techniques to gain a better understanding of how to manage our living resources in the face of a rapidly changing environment. In the pursuit of conducting original research, students will develop and practice skills in laboratory techniques like PCR and gel electrophoresis. Students will also develop skills summarizing and interpreting primary research in a literature review of their project topic. Projects will involve experimental design, implementing field and/or lab experiments, and culminate in writing an in-depth research paper.

Art, Culture, and Community
How can art reflect or create our sense of identity, culture, and community? Through personalized class assignments and investigations into relevant contemporary artists, this question will be explored and dissected through a medium of the students choice (painting, drawing, mixed media, photography, video). Students will propose an independent exploration that will ultimately culminate in a multi media installation. These projects will serve as a tool to affirm cultural identity and contribute to social engagement with the HPA community at large. 

The Art of Story
The Art of Story capstone class is centered around creative writing and editing skills that will allow each student to learn the important craft of storytelling in their chosen medium. As humans, we are “wired for story,” and strong storytelling skills give students an edge in all aspects of life. We will begin with the foundational skills of storytelling and writing techniques and then begin the work of learning through experience. We will also explore design, publishing, publicity and social media from the standpoint of a writer. Students will have time in-class for writing. 

Projects & capstone courses at HPA, upper campus, 9-12

Looking for the full story?

Complete capstone course descriptions can be found in our Upper School course catalog.